Every Home Should be a Food Factory

Robert Rodale's 1969 editorial about the importance of growing your own food.

By Robert Rodale


The walls of this organic farm are lined with serious insulation and cement blocks.First step in doing more of your own food factory work is having a place to store grains, fruits, vegetables and meats. The modern home usually has a freezer, which is a big help in stockpiling foods, but often we lack a cool, humidity-controlled place for other foods. Old-fashioned homes had either a root cellar or an earth-floored basement. Those were ideal places for many foods, and a family could pack away a whole winter's supply of groceries. Lack of central heating also helped when it came to food storage. In the old Pennsylvania Dutch farm houses around here, it was 'a common sight to see smoked meats hanging from the ceiling of an unheated downstairs room.

At the Organic Gardening Experimental Farm, we have just completed the building of a modern food storage building, suitable for use on a farm or by a large family. Designed by an architect, it has attractive lines and so adds to the appearance of the farm. The walls are made of a double layer of concrete block, separated by plastic-foam insulation. The roof has broad eaves to shade the walls from the summer sun, and inside the floor is earth. Basic idea of a building like this is to maintain a constant cool temperature, summer and winter, and to have enough humidity in the air to prevent drying-out of fruits and vegetables. A fan keeps the air moving, and a small air-conditioning unit can be added to cope with very hot summer temperatures, if necessary.

Most homes already have some equipment needed to do more processing of the family's food, such as a refrigerator, sink, stove, ovens, large pots and a freezer. The modern trend is to use this useful equipment only for the last stages of food preparation, to get food warm for eating. But if you decide you want to save money and eat better by really processing food at home, many of the tools are there for you to use. 

There are certain other tools that will be a big help, though. First and foremost is a small electric grain mill. An excellent one can be purchased for about $150, and believe me, it is a good investment. You haven't lived until you have enjoyed regularly the taste of freshly ground grains. Fresh grinding is especially important with whole grains, because the germ and oils are still present. They go stale faster than the devitalized flours and meals sold in stores.

There are also big cost savings in using a home flour mill. You can buy whole grains in large lots for as little as 3 cents a pound, while you will pay about 10 cents a pound for meal  or flour. And if you buy processed foods made from meal or flour, the cost to you will be 20 cents a pound or more.

There is an interesting article about home flour mills in the March issue of The Green Revolution, a newspaper published by the School of Living in Brookville, Ohio. It is written by W. B. Booher, and has some good things to say about how to get raw material for your grinder, once you have one:

"Occasionally someone wants to know where he can buy good corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley, etc. One of the best places is of course from the farmer who raises the grain, and try to get it directly from the combine as it is being harvested. In this way you can be sure it has not been run over by rats and mice in storage; also that it has not been exposed to the strong fumigants used in most elevators. If you can make the acquaintance of a friendly farmer, not too far from your home, you can no doubt count on a supply from him each year. If you live in the central United States you probably have friends among farmers who can supply you; perhaps some farmer attends your church. In addition there are farmers and elevators in the country who cater to the retail trade regularly.